Saturday, July 14, 2012

Serena, Vandeweghe to meet in all-American final

Top seed and defending champion Serena Williams needed only one hour
to beat ninth-seeded Sorana Cirstea 6-1, 6-2 in the semifinals of the Bank
of the West Classic at Stanford. Photo by Paul Bauman
   STANFORD -- The woes of American professional tennis have been well-documented over the past decade.
   The United States hasn't had a Grand Slam men's singles champions since Andy Roddick in the 2003 U.S. Open, and Serena Williams is the only U.S. woman in the top 25.
   Perhaps the most shocking statistic of all, however, surfaced -- so to speak -- on Saturday at the Bank of the West Classic.
   Sunday's 1 p.m. final between Williams, the top seed and defending champion, and lucky loser CoCo Vandeweghe will be the first between two American women on U.S. soil since Lindsay Davenport routed Williams 6-1, 6-3 eight years ago in Los Angeles.
   "It's cool," the fourth-ranked Williams said of the all-American final after dismissing ninth-seeded Sorana Cirstea of Romania 6-1, 6-2 in one hour Saturday night. "Everyone is always asking about American players. CoCo took her second chance to the ultimate degree. I'm glad she's American. If she wins tomorrow, I'll be happy for her."
 CoCo Vandeweghe used her powerful serve to become
the first lucky loser in seven years to reach a WTA final.
Photo by Paul Bauman
   The 6-foot-1 Vandeweghe earlier used her powerful serve and groundstrokes to become the first lucky loser in seven years to reach a WTA final. She blasted 12 aces, including a 120-mph rocket to lead all players in the tournament, in a 6-2, 3-6, 6-2 victory over fifth-seeded Yanina Wickmayer of Belgium.
   That put Vandeweghe, a 20-year-old resident of Rancho Santa Fe in the San Diego area, in her first career WTA final.
   "My whole dream when I started playing tennis was to be No. 1 in the world," Vandeweghe said. "Playing in WTA finals and winning titles is progress toward that goal."
   The only previous meeting between Williams and Vandeweghe came in World TeamTennis, which uses an abbreviated scoring format. Williams won by one point, 5-4 (5-4 tiebreaker), last summer. 
   Vandeweghe lost to Thailand's Noppawan Lertcheewakarn, the 2009 Wimbledon girls singles champion, 2-6, 6-2, 7-5 in the final round of qualifying for the Bank of the West Classic but advanced to the main draw when Bojana Jovanovski of Serbia withdrew with an unspecified injury.
    The last lucky loser to reach a WTA final was Hungary's Melinda Czink, who fell to Ana Ivanovic in the 2005 Canberra title match.
   Vandeweghe beat Czink in the first round at Stanford, fourth seed and former world No. 1 Jelena Jankovic of Serbia in the second round, and Urszula Radwanska in the quarterfinals. Radwanska is the younger sister of recent Wimbledon runner-up Agnieszka Radwanska.
   Vandeweghe comes from a renowned athletic family. Her uncle Kiki averaged 19.7 points during his 13-year NBA career (1980-93). Her grandfather Ernie played for the New York Knicks in the 1950s, and her mother, Tauna, represented the United States at the Olympics in swimming in 1976 and volleyball in 1984.
   Tauna is attending the Bank of the West Classic. After Saturday's match, CoCo jumped in her mother's arms and gave her a big hug.
   CoCo played volleyball and basketball as a child and didn't take up tennis until the preposterously late age -- for a future pro -- of 11. At 16, she turned pro and won the U.S. Open girls singles title.
   Vandeweghe played for the Sacramento Capitals of WTT the following year and will return to the team in eight days after competing for the Boston Lobsters the past two seasons.   
   Playing near home in Carlsbad two years ago, Vandeweghe knocked off Vera Zvonareva en route to the quarterfinals. Zvonareva had reached the Wimbledon final one month earlier, losing to Williams.
   Vandeweghe, ranked No. 120 entering the Bank of the West Classic, will crack the top 75 Monday to surpass her career high of No. 89 in April last year.
   Wickmayer, 6 feet, reached the U.S. Open semifinals three years ago at 19 but has been plagued by back problems. She won long three-setters in the first two rounds of the Bank of the West Classic, then upset second-seeded Marion Bartoli of France in the quarterfinals. Bartoli won the Bank of the West in 2009 and reached the final in 2008 and last year.
   Wickmayer and Vandeweghe traded darts from the baseline in their two-hour, 11-minute battle. Vandeweghe broke Wickmayer's serve for 3-1 and 6-2 in the third set while holding her own throughout the set. Both times Wickmayer was broken, she followed an unforced error with a double fault on the last two points.
   Vandeweghe saved four break points at 3-1 in the final set and six of seven overall. She converted only 46 percent of her first serves, a figure that must improve against Williams, but won 86 percent of her first-serve points.
   "She served well," Wickmayer said. "It was tough to get any chances on her serve. It made my serve more difficult. I knew I couldn't lose my own serve. Every break point was like match point."
   The night match featured Serena vs. Sorana. Williams, who reputedly has the best serve in women's tennis history, put in only 38 percent of her first deliveries.
   "That's outrageous, to be honest," she said. "(Cirstea) didn't serve very well, either."
   Cirstea had a first-serve percentage of just 36 and double-faulted eight times. She also committed a whopping 32 unforced errors to 10 winners.
   Vandeweghe hardly can do worse Sunday, but at least an American will win.
   See below for Saturday's full results and Sunday's schedule.
   WTT in Irvine -- Sam Querrey, a top-20 player before undergoing elbow surgery in June 2011, joined the Capitals one match early. But it wasn't enough as Davenport and the Orange County Breakers defeated Sacramento 23-20 in overtime to end the Capitals' three-match winning streak.
   Querrey, replacing Ryan Sweeting, won 5-3 in men's singles and lost 5-4 in men's doubles with Mark Knowles. Sweeting played only one of his scheduled three matches for Sacramento (3-2) after suffering back spasms in the season opener.
   Querrey is scheduled to play the next five matches for the Capitals and 33rd-ranked Kevin Anderson the last four of the regular season. Querrey is 6-foot-6 and Anderson 6-8.
   Davenport, a former Capital who reached No. 1 in the world in singles and doubles, won 5-3 in women's doubles with Anna-Lena Groenefeld and 5-2 in mixed doubles with Travis Parrott for Orange County (2-2). Davenport, a 36-year-old mother of three, did not play singles.
   See below for Saturday's full results.
At Stanford
Singles semifinals
   CoCo Vandeweghe, Rancho Santa Fe, def. Yanina Wickmayer (5), Belgium, 6-2, 3-6, 6-2.
   Serena Williams (1), Palm Beach Gardens, Fla., def. Sorana Cirstea (9), Romania, 6-1, 6-2.
Doubles semifinals
   Jarmila Gajdosova, Australia, and Vania King (1), Boynton Beach, Fla., def. Yung-Jan Chan and Hao-Ching Chan (4), Taiwan, 6-3, 6-3.
   Marina Erakovic, New Zealand, and Heather Watson, Great Britain, def. Natalie Grandin, South Africa, and Vladimira Uhlirova (3), Czech Republic, 7-5, 6-7 (6), 10-7.
Sunday's order of play
(Starting at 1 p.m.)
   CoCo Vandeweghe, Rancho Santa Fe, vs. Serena Williams (1), Palm Beach Gardens, Fla.
   Jarmila Gajdosova, Australia, and Vania King (1), Boynton Beach, Fla., vs. Marina Erakovic, New Zealand, and Heather Watson, Great Britain. 
Orange County 23, Capitals 20 (OT)
In Irvine, Calif.
   Men's doubles -- John-Patrick Smith-Travis Parrott (Breakers) def. Sam Querrey-Mark Knowles (Capitals) 5-4.
   Women's doubles -- Lindsay Davenport-Anna-Lena Groenefeld (Breakers) def. Asia Muhammad-Yasmin Schnack (Capitals) 5-3.
   Men's singles -- Sam Querrey (Capitals) def. John-Patrick Smith (Breakers) 5-3.
   Mixed doubles -- Travis Parrott-Lindsay Davenport (Breakers) def. Mark Knowles-Yasmin Schnack (Capitals) 5-2.
   Women's singles -- Asia Muhammad (Capitals) def. Anna-Lena Groenefeld (Breakers) 5-4.
   Overtime -- Anna-Lena Groenefeld (Breakers) tied Asia Muhammad (Capitals) 1-1.
(All times PDT)
   Newport (men), final, Tennis Channel, 11 a.m.-1 p.m. (live); Stanford (women), final,  ESPN2, 1-3 p.m. (live); Stuttgart (men), final, Tennis Channel, 1-3 pm. (delay); Bastad (men), final, Tennis Channel, 3-5 p.m. (delay); Umag (men), final, Tennis Channel, 5-7 p.m. (delay); Palermo (women), final, Tennis Channel, 7-9 p.m. (delay).
   Sunday -- WTA, Bank of the West Classic, Stanford, singles final at 1 p.m., doubles final to follow.
   Monday -- World TeamTennis, Sacramento Capitals (with Sam Querrey) vs. New York, Sunrise Marketplace Outdoor Pavilion, Sunrise Mall in Citrus Heights, 7:35 p.m.,
   Wednesday -- Capitals at Washington, 4:10 p.m.
   Thursday -- Capitals at Springfield, 5:05 p.m.
   Friday -- Capitals at Kansas City, 5:35 p.m.
   July 22 -- Springfield at Capitals (with Querrey, CoCo Vandeweghe), Sunrise Marketplace Outdoor Pavilion, Sunrise Mall in Citrus Heights, 7:35 p.m.,
   July 24 -- Orange County (with Lindsay Davenport) at Capitals (with Kevin Anderson, Vandeweghe), Sunrise Marketplace Outdoor Pavilion, Sunrise Mall in Citrus Heights, 7:35 p.m.,
   July 25 -- Capitals (with Vandeweghe) at Orange County, 7 p.m.
   July 27 -- Philadelphia (with Mark Philippoussis) at Capitals (with Anderson, Vandeweghe), Sunrise Marketplace Outdoor Pavilion, Sunrise Mall in Citrus Heights, 7:35 p.m.,
   July 28 -- Boston at Capitals (with Anderson, Vandeweghe), Sunrise Marketplace Outdoor Pavilion, Sunrise Mall in Citrus Heights, 7:35 p.m.,
   July 28-Aug. 5 -- OLYMPIC TENNIS TOURNAMENT, Wimbledon,

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